June 11, 2012
The End of Trust
For years we have been telling clients that a brand is more about what a consumer believes it is rather than what we say it is. This idea has never been truer or more difficult to manage than in our digital culture today. With a combination of greater consumer awareness, unstable economic times and political infighting, people are demanding transparency and losing trust in brands and large institutions that don’t provide it. Instead, they turn to their peers. Smart phone in hand consumers today are eager to give and receive instantaneous feedback and recommendations on almost any experience. As a result, they have more ownership of brands than ever.
So how do we use this shared ownership to regain trust and build stronger brands?
While quality products, services and experiences are certainly important factors in consumer trust, organizations need to get in touch with what people are really looking for beyond the obvious: authenticity. Authenticity has been lacking in how we engage with consumers for some time, and they know it. They’re tired of companies pushing information at them through the same old inauthentic marketing.
The roads to trust and authenticity are paved with relevance and transparency. People are looking for simplicity in their lives, not complexity; so making your products and services simple to use and legitimately helpful is key.
1. Spend real time with your consumers and interact with them. Have conversations about what they need or want, in a true ethnographic manner.
2. Do more than talk, listen and observe. Go where your customers are, step into their environments, and understand the problems they run into on a daily basis.
3. Question everything you think you already know about your customers. Approach them with a true beginner’s mind, open to seeing things differently.
Take this approach and apply what you learn to design the kinds of experiences that consumers will find delight in—and will want to share with their peers. You will most likely discover new opportunities and provide genuine authenticity. Bring trust back to the interactions you have with your consumers. Engage them, listen to them, and build a product or service that is worthy of them. They are your brand after all.